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By Ronnie Nathanielsz

Sat, 07 Dec 2013

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum turns 83 this weekend and for all his faults, real or imagined, you?ve got to admire the man and what he?s done for boxing and on a more personal note, what he?s done for ?Fighter of the Decade? Manny Pacquiao.

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schafer, the banker who had Oscar De La Hoya violate fundamental integrity when he bought Ring Magazine and its sister publications like KO magazine and enticed some otherwise respectable and respected journalists to join his camp, continues to attack Arum using the vilest language possible which, in itself, is a disgrace to the sport.

Anytime Arum or anybody for that matter raises the issue of how Floyd Mayweather Jr has avoided fighting Pacquiao, Schaefer rants and raves, forgetting the bottom line that they could make the fight happen but they won?t because Mayweather picks and chooses fighters he can beat.

But what we will personally never forget or forgive Schaefer for is his denying the fact that he told us in the Golden Boy office board room some years ago that he was sure Manny was on performance enhancing drugs! Unfortunately for him there was a witness in the room and rather than probably get nailed in a court hearing he decided to come to terms with Pacquiao and settle the case.

Arum is no saint but he is far closer to being canonized than Schaefer will ever be.

We?ve known Bob Arum since 1975 when we served as Muhammad Ali?s liaison officer in the famed ?Thrilla in Manila? against Joe Frazier which is regarded as the greatest heavyweight championship bout of all-time.

The Philippines, then under martial rule imposed by President Marcos who was himself an amateur boxer and a lover of the sport, will always remain grateful to Arum and of course Don King for having agreed to stage the fight in Manila.

It was a historic occasion that focused the world?s attention on our country and the result was certainly positive because we were able to showcase the Filipino?s ability to handle such a massive event without any hitches.

Since that memorable occasion Arum has often come back to meet old friends such as the First Lady Mrs Imelda Romualdez Marcos and some of her close friends and has told us how much he enjoyed these get-togethers.

Our nation and people certainly owe a debt of gratitude to Arum for how he has steered the career of Manny Pacquiao through the years, leading him to eight world titles in eight different weight divisions, no doubt with the genius among trainers, Freddie Roach.

When some unscrupulous individuals sought to entice Pacquiao away from Arum and Top Rank in the belief that he could earn more money which would also benefit them, Pacquiao, to his credit, refused to leave Arum, reminding them that he was eternally grateful to Arum and Top Rank for what they had done for him.

Aside from Pacquiao, Arum has also steered the career of 2012 ?Fighter of the Year? Nonito ?The Filipino Flash? Donaire and provided opportunities for fighters like Brian Viloria, Milan Melindo, Mercito ?No Mercy? Gesta and others to fight under the Top Rank banner thanks to the persuasive influence of Pacquiao.

While Manny is embroiled in a tax dispute with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Arum has steadfastly taken up the cudgels for him.

When a super typhoon devastated vast areas of Samar and Leyte and took thousands of lives, Arum dug deep into his pockets to contribute P1 million.

Whenever Pacquiao sets up training camp in the Philippines, Arum flies in to check out how things are going, even though he doesn?t need to. That?s a sign of his concern for his prized possession.

The other day he had flown from Los Angeles to New York to discuss a five city swing by Pacquiao to raise funds for the rehabilitation of the hardest hit areas in the Visayas.

It?s a massive undertaking to organize the stops in Singapore, LA, Las Vegas, New York and Washington but even as he approaches 83 summers, Arum is committed to help a country and people he has come to love and respect.

The least we can do is to reciprocate his affection and to give him all the respect he deserves. Boxing, at times, is considered a brutal sport but there are sterling examples of genuinely compassionate men who are a tribute to the sport. Bob Arum and Manny Pacquiao surely must rank right at the top.

As Matthew 6:21 says, ?For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.?

To boxing and to us, you are indeed a treasure. Happy Birthday Mr. Arum and God bless you.

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